Training an RNN to generate Trump Tweets

Recurrent Neural Networks, or RNNs, are well-suited for generating text. Essentially, after training, they predict the next character given a sequence of previous characters.

For fun (and learning), I wanted to train an RNN to generate Trump Tweets.

Gathering the data

First, I needed a bunch of Tweets to train the RNN on. The Twitter API only allows fetching the most recent 3,200 Tweets, but thankfully a great guy named Brendan Brown did the heavy lifting of archiving them at the Trump Twitter Archive.

Sweet.

After some preliminary training, I found that there was a lot of noise in the output. I was reminded of the classic saying, “Garbage in, garbage out,” and I realized I needed to heavily sanitize this data. Many Tweets were quotations, some were replies, some were sharing links. I wrote some NodeJS to clean up the Tweets and put it in this repository.

Picking an RNN implementation

The canonical RNN implementation seems to be GitHub user karpathy’s char-rnn. It’s implemented in Lua using torch, a scientific computing framework. My Late 2015 iMac was able to train the RNN in about 6 hours.

However, I was looking to create an API where a user could generate a Trump Tweet using my RNN, and AWS Lambda doesn’t support Lua. So I searched around for a Python implementation, and stumbled across this one which uses Google’s TensorFlow framework. I’m currently retraining the RNN using this and will report back once that’s complete.

Reference

Some other humorous uses of RNNs

Written on June 12, 2017